Wednesday 31 July 2013

Do you let your kids listen to the news?

If you've never heard of Gangnam style then, well whatever, of course you have........  It's the hit song that the kids quickly adopted, loving the funny dancing style, even my 5yo know's it.   I guess it caught on in the playground.

I did however come across some problems recently with my 9yo, as it went around their classroom that the thrusting in the video was the "Rape" dance!   A few mothers complained and the only male teacher in the school duly explained to the pupils that it wasn't, I think?   We weren't made aware of exactly what was said, however Jasper informed me he knew all about the R word?

I tackled the teacher in question, and it took me several attempts to get him to tell me what the R word actually was! I figured that it must have been dealt with, but the next day Jasper explained to his 5yo sister "you can go to jail for doing the Rape dance".

Rightly or wrongly I took Jasper aside and told him that Rape was not a dance but in fact a voilent act forced upon someone against their will, and if caught they would certainly be sent to jail!   I figured that correct information was better to be processed???????

But here's the thing.........................

This morning there was a story on the news about a 12yo girl being raped by 2 men at the weekend?  I should have learned from previous episodes where the children also picked up very quickly on the April Jones disappearance, which distressed both of them and has stayed with them since!  They can get very edgy and nervy when they are out!

Do you let your children listen to the news or would you vet it first, if you could?  Would be very interested in your thoughts!  I think that it is happening and it is out there, and that's life kind of thing, but maybe I should follow the Watershed rules (having now googled), it means content is restricted before 9pm and after 5.30am!   See the Ofcom Site.  I will keeping a close eye on this, maybe I'll have to forgo listening to the news when they are around!

Would love to hear your thoughts?
Annie x

Monday 29 July 2013

#Riverfood Trip, A Culinary Treat along the Thames to Launch Coopers Restaurant Consultants

We were recently invited to the Southbank, to board the100y/o MV  Royalty, for the launch of Coopers Restaurant Consultants.  We were to sample #Riverfood - a menu created by the Michelin Starred Chef Phillip Cooper, the concept being that all the food we would sample would be sourced predominantly from the River Thames Estuary.

Jack Pike Sausage
We were sent an example menu and were salivating at the thoughts of Oysters with Tabasco Jelly and Jack Pike sausage with green peppercorn and puy lentils!  We were not disappointed!

Now some of you may know that I am not the biggest lover of boats, but this was going to be moored so I figured I could cope with that.  However!!!!!!!   As it was such a lovely day, they decided to have a little trip up the River!  I did go green at the thought of it, but I needn't have panicked!   Beautiful food, on a beautiful hot Summer's day, amongst good friends and newly found friends.

Green Tomato Soup with Whelk
We met Phillip Cooper, a lovely man who is clearly excited about his new venture.  Phillip trained in ‘Bakery, Confectionary & Cooking’ with a mission to work with the best. He started at The Royal Garden Hotel but was soon working under Michel Roux Senior at the prestigious The Waterside Inn. Phillip travelled the world working on the luxurious QE2 and on his return, joined Claridges, learning everything there was to know from the fantastic John Williams.  Phillip moved on to the 1 Michelin Star restaurant ‘Souffle’ at Hotel Intercontinental under Peter Kronenberg. As Head Chef he worked with the legendary Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and was Marco Pierre White’s right hand man at ‘Criterion’, ‘Quo Vadis’ and ‘Belvedere’ and eventually was made Executive Head Chef at ‘The Mirabelle’, the largest Michelin star restaurant in the UK.   With a brigade of 30 chefs working for him he understands precision. Phillip has consulted for many restaurants and is more motivated than ever to pass his knowledge on to you!
Estuary smoked kipper with egg and cress
Smoked Pike
Alongside Phillip we met lovely Andrea Britton, the lady responsible for organising the event, which was flawless, relaxing and enjoyable!   We were made to feel very welcome, no press packs being proffered, instead a complimentary cocktail as we boarded.  Andrea has spent the last 15 years in the Music, Events and PR Industry and was at the forefront of the Social Media and Online Marketing boom. Running The ‘Time Out Bar and Restaurant of the Year’ in 2001 and worked alongside Wayne Hemingway for his Vintage Festival at Southbank. 

The boys enjoying Oyster
Andrea is also responsible for the marketing and events handling for Absolute Party Cruises, the Thames Party Boat Specialists in London - this was clearly evident on the day itself!  She founded Online PR UK in 2010 and has since marketed countless eateries, bars and clubs and has worked with a varied array of startups on their brand both on and offline. Andrea is highly creative in her approach and will always find the best ways to represent a client and their goals. She has a hugely successful blog offering social media marketing advice and restaurant reviews and has also written a book on the subject. Her precision is faultless and she always delivers on time and on budget.

beautiful day out in London
Oysters with Tabasco Jelly
We also met Arno Marsman, who I'm still trying to work out where I might have met before, I'm still working on that!  Arno is a highly successful management professional with a reputation for excellence.  Arno was often found helping out in his grandfathers’ pub in Amsterdam before training classically in both the kitchen and front of house, gaining a BA (Hons) in Hospitality Management. 

His extensive career has spanned from restaurants and bars to managing and organizing major conferences and banqueting events in the most prestigious venues in London.  

Arno’s ‘hands-on’ approach as a General Manager in places such as; The Wallace Restaurant (Oliver Peyton), ‘Searcys’, at The Barbican and Marco Pierre White’s Frankie’s Bar and Grill made each of these restaurants stand out from the crowd and systems introduced by Arno are still being used today. Arno’s last role as Operations Director for a chain of Country Inns taught him to multitask and never, ever take his eyes off the cash flow.
Arno assisted in the planning and implementation of The Queen’s 80th Birthday Celebrations held at Mansion House and with The Hurlingham Club‘s £22m refurbishment to establish a first class Conference and Banqueting facility. What Arno does not know about hospitality is not worth knowing.

With this talented Trio heading up Coopers Restaurant Consultants, it is sure to be a success!  Below this is a more detailed description of exactly what they can do for you, but in the meantime you can contact them on.......

PHILIP COOPER: 07718 988178
ARNO MARSMAN: 07810 752785
ANDREA BRITTON: 07957 264576

We are Coopers, independent restaurant consultants.
We use our extensive experience in the trade to help businesses working with food to become more profitable, succeed and grow.
We are not your average restaurant consultants, we take a hands-on approach, working directly with you to provide a service that gets great results fast.

Whether you’re struggling to get your menu right, hire and keep good staff, need specific training in selling and service or are simply lagging behind the competition with your marketing and social media strategies, Coopers can help.

We’ve helped high-end restaurants, bars and pubs to provide better food, better service and achieve higher profit margins. So whether you’re corporate or boutique, a start up or in trouble, we have the know-how to make a positive difference to your business.

We’ll take a fresh look at your business, your staff and your product and identify key areas that would benefit from change.
We’ll always give you an honest, straight down the line opinion and a realistic business plan.
Our team is formed of experts in the fields of Cookery, Operations, Front of House and Marketing so we are able to give you honest, expert advice on every aspect of your business.
We work closely with you and your staff because we believe that the best solutions come from working together.

Every business is unique, so we tailor-make our solutions to suit you.
Below is a rough guide of the kind of service we provide for existing businesses.

Initial consultation: A free of charge meeting to gain an understanding of your needs.
Mystery diner: Incognito site visits to see how your business runs currently
On site work: 2 days working on site with your staff
Written Report: Document detailing areas for improvement and recommendations
Plan of action: A schedule of areas to be tackled, agreed with yourself

Assistance: Work on site with employees, owners and managers to ensure changes are implemented smoothly and staff are motivated.
Marketing: Set up Marketing Plan and implement
Social Media: Provide full social media strategy if required

Once you are happy that your business is running smoothly and profitably we’ll make regular site visits to ensure that the standards you require are being met. We offer a range of extra services that can help you to do this more efficiently, including the option to have a chef work in your kitchen at regular intervals to keep staff on their toes. Contact us for more details.

Menu Creation - A successful menu is key to achieving the right balance between profit and loss. For most restaurants your menu is your core product. Philip Cooper will look at your menu, highlight certain errors or if necessary, give it a face lift. Together with your team a new menu will be created that is tailored to your restaurant.

Training - Coopers core training focuses on: Kitchen Management, Product Knowledge, Sales Skills, Up-selling, Professional Service, Customer Care, Finance, Improved Efficiency, Marketing & Social Media, Health & Safety and Food Hygiene. 
Front of House - Most importantly the first thing your customers will notice in your establishment is Front of House. A well-run restaurant can save you money in staff costs and increase profitability by employing efficient sales techniques and providing a positive, friendly experience for your customers.
Financial - We often find that money has many ways of leaking out of your business. We can conduct a thorough financial overview and get to the source of the leaks, stop them in their tracks and ensure they never re-occur. Coopers can look and improve upon your current financial systems, consult on available new methods and find those that may be better suited to your operation and budget. We look at; Food Wastage, Maintenance and Utilities, Daily Invoice reconciling, Full P&L Cash flow, Wage Cost and Rota’s, Forecasts and Stock Takes.

Brand & Marketing - During our consultancy process we discuss the effectiveness of your brand and the marketing efforts of your venue. Coopers work with specialist marketers who will make a world of difference in helping you to attract new customers and ensure repeat business.
Statuary Compliance Consultancy - Our experts have been in charge of over 500 catering establishments throughout Britain. We know our onions. We take a detailed look at your current procedures and make the changes needed to help you achieve 5 stars on the door. 

Events - Coopers are available for one-off events. We have nearly 10 years experience organizing banqueting events in some of London’s most prestigious venues, the Royal Albert Hall, the Mansion House, the Barbican and the Wallace Collection, to name but a few. Whether your event is for 20 or 2500 guests, our contacts in the industry will guarantee you get perfect results. Philip Coopers’ innovative approach to food allows you to get the exact menu you wish for. He will advise, budget and add creativity and expertise along the way, making sure your guests will be talking about your event for months after it’s finished.

Free Consultation - Phil and Arno are able to get under the skin of your establishment in as little as a week from your initial call. We offer a free consultation and often pop in before that meeting to get a feel for your business before you have even met us. This way we can ensure we see your operation from both your customers and the Coopers point of view.

Thank you x

Thursday 11 July 2013

Have A Berry-Tastic Summer

We were lucky enough to be invited to Tesco in Hatfield recently, to sample some of their in season Berries. We learnt some interesting facts about strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in particular, and given suggestions on how to make the most out of them.  I had no idea that so much went into picking the best strawbs, but I must say they were delicious - you must try them with balsamic vinegar - who knew?
They sent us away with a smile, and a hamper packed with goodies, including the ingredients to make a Summer Berry Tart with lemon cream - see picture "ta-da"!!!!!

If you would like some recipe suggestions, take a look at the Tesco Real Food sight in general, or go straight to the Strawberry Recipe page.

Annie x

Disclosure: Sponsored post.